A zero-turn riding lawn mower a standard riding lawn mower with a turning radius that is essentially zero inches (They can spin about an axis in the centre of the machine). Different brands and models achieve this in different ways.

Most current models have four wheels, two swiveling front tires and two larger drive tires in the back. Instead of controlling the swiveling tires to steer the machine, the drive tires rotate independently of each other. They may rotate in opposite directions (most machines using a hydraulic (hydrostatic) transmission system). The mower can pivot around a point midway between the drive wheels, or it can pivot around either one of the drive wheels, or it can turn in a circle of any radius.


Tin Meloin of Moundridge, Kansas is credited with developing the first hydraulic operated zero-turn lawn mower in 1963. He called his first mower The Hustler, because the zero-turn technology greatly reduced traditional mowing time. Due to the lack of initial interest in zero-turn lawn mowers, Regier eventually sold his patent and design to the Hesston Corporation, located in Hesston, Kansas, which would eventually become Excel Industries. Excel Industries is the parent company of Hustler Turf, which manufacturers Hustler zero-turn mowers.[1]

In 1969, Grasshopper Mowers introduced the first commercially viable zero-turn mower,[2] and in 1974, Dixon coined the term "zero-turn radius" with their entrance into the mower market.[1]

In 1997, Robert D. Davis Jr. obtained United States Patent 5644903 for a new steering control he had invented for a zero turn radius mower, based on eight previous patents.[3][4]

Currently, there are more than three dozen zero-turn mower manufacturers offering a range of mid-mounted and out-front mowing deck options and accessories.


For most zero-turn mowers today, steering is simply changing the speeds of the drive tires. The tire speed is controlled by two levers that protrude on either side of the driver and typically extend over the lap. It is not that different from steering a shopping cart.[5] When both levers are pushed forward simultaneously with the same force, the mower moves forward; when both levers are pulled back simultaneously with the same force, the mower moves backward. Push one lever more than the other and the mower makes a gentle turn. Push one lever forward and pull the other back and the mower pivots from the drive wheels, creating a zero-radius turn.[6]

Zero-turn mowers can use steering wheels but must be designed much differently. Husqvarna is one of the few zero-turns to use a steering wheel by connecting the back wheels to an axle. The axle is mounted in its midpoint to the body of the mower.[7]


Zero-turn mowers are designed to cut so closely around obstacles that there’s virtually no need to trim. These mowers pivot through 180 degrees without leaving any uncut grass. Maximum lever movement means maximum fluid flow, which translates into a rapidly turning wheel. If one drive wheel turns more rapidly than the other, the machine moves along a curved path. If both wheels turn at the same speed, the machine follows a straight path. If one wheel stops and the other turns, or if the wheels turn in opposite directions, the mower pivots.[7]


There are a number of different attachments that add to the versatility of zero turn mowers. One popular attachment is a bagging system that allows you to collect grass clippings. There are many bagger options available for zero turn mowers including two- and three-bucket designs. You can also add a mulching kit to the deck to mulch clippings back into the lawn instead of having the grass discharge from the side chute.

Adding a hitch to the back of your zero turn mower will allow you to use a variety of different attachments, including a dump cart, spreader, plug aerator, lawn dethatcher, roller or sprayer. Some zero turn mowers also accommodate front-mounted attachments such as a snow blade, snow blower or brush for clearing snow or debris.[8]

Zero-Turn Mower ManufacturersEdit

Some of the main manufacturers of this type of mower include:

Walker Manufacturing Company(Walker Mowers)


  1. 1.0 1.1 Fasold, Danny (2009-01-12). "Zero-Turn Mowers: Past, Present, Future". Retrieved on 2010-07-16.
  2. "Grasshopper Mower". Grasshopper Mower. Retrieved on 2010-07-16.
  3. Davis Jr., Robert D. et al (July 8, 1997). "United States Patent: 5644903". USPTO. Retrieved on 2010-07-17.
  4. Davis Jr., Robert D. et al (July 8, 1997). "Steering control for zero turn radius mower - Robert D. Davis et al - Google Patent Search". USPTO via Google. Retrieved on 2010-07-17. (more user-friendly presentation of the above)
  5. "Why Zero Turn Mowers? - Easy to Drive". Retrieved on 30 March 2011.
  6. Maxwell, Steve (2007-08-04). "Zero-turn radius concept mows over grass, competition". Retrieved on 2010-07-16.
  7. "Why Zero Turn Mowers - Attachments?". Retrieved on 30 March 2011.

External linksEdit

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